Our Quote of the Week invites us to commit to building peace. It reminds us that service is central to peacebuilding, and emphasizes that a movement towards world peace begins in our own communities.
Sargent Shriver made this call to peace in his 2002 Speech at the National Peace Corps Association's 41st Annual Celebration Dinner, less than one year after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The short speech shows his understanding of the contemporary world. It also reveals the continued commitment to service, peacebuilding, and diplomacy that motivated him as he led the Peace Corps, the War on Poverty, and as he took on the role of US Ambassador to France.
As June comes to a close, we are reflecting on Peace Corps milestones that occurred just as Sargent Shriver was beginning his tenure as Director: in June of 1961, he reported to the Senate Foreign Relations committee that the agency had received "about 11,000 completed applications" in its first few months, and the first cohorts of volunteers were starting their training at locations around the country. It was the beginning of a movement that would see over 240,000 Americans serving in communities abroad.
In 2021, our country, and our world community, are facing many difficult challenges. These challenges remind us that we cannot take peace for granted. The recently-released, annual Global Peace Index, which measures peace in countries around the world, shows that peace has declined overall. While 87 countries have shown some improvements in peacefulness, we have spent more on the military, and violence and civil unrest have seen a notable increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The index is a stark reminder that we are in dire need of peacebuilding in communities around the world. Sargent Shriver reminds us that with creativity, community engagement, and a commitment to service, we can find ways to build peace all around us.
Let us use our individual spheres of influence to create a more peaceful, compassionate world.